Before I answer the question about winding yarn, let’s take a look at the different ways yarn is packaged. Here at Berroco, our yarns are generally packaged in one of three different ways (or put-ups, as they’re called). Deciding which way to package the yarn depends on a lot of factors, including the nature of the yarn, the capabilities of the spinning mill, and the preferences of our customers. Here are the three basic types:
BALL – Like the name implies, the yarn is wound up into a round shape, with one end on the outside of the ball, and the other hidden inside the center. When it’s time to use the yarn, you can just find one of the ends and get going.
SKEIN – A skein of yarn often has an elongated shape. Similar to a ball, a skein is ready for use. One end is found at the outside of the skein, and the other is hidden inside the center.
HANK – Hanks of yarn can vary in appearance. For instance, the one on the below left is a folded hank, while the one on the right is a twisted hank. Both of them yield the same result after you remove the label (and untwist a twisted hank) – hank yarn is wound into a wide circle. The ends are tied together, helping to keep the strands of yarn running parallel. A hank differs from balls and skeins because it needs to be wound into a ball. Knitting directly from the circle itself could lead to a tangled mess!
There are a number of ways to wind yarn from a hank into a ball. Many yarn shops offer a complementary winding service at the time of purchase, so don’t forget to ask next time you buy a hank. You can also wind the yarn yourself, either by hand or by purchasing an umbrella swift and a ball winder. For demonstrations on both options, check out the video below:
Once you learn to identify which yarns are ready for knitting and which ones require some winding first, you’ll never have to face another terrifying tangle!